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Critical care specialist joins ‘flying doctors’

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airambulance1A LLANELLI-BASED critical care practitioner has joined an innovative programme of ‘flying doctors’ that are now caring for Wales’ most critically ill patients.

Tracy Phipps has been recruited as part of EMRTS (Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service) Cymru, which sees consultants join critical care practitioners on Wales Air Ambulance missions for the first time.

Having completed a rigorous training schedule to prepare for joining the air ambulance’s missions, Tracy is one of 19 critical care consultants and 12 critical care practitioners recruited by the scheme.

The 44-year-old, who spent nine years in the army and served in Kosovo, Northern Ireland, Iraq, Germany, Cyprus and China, applied to take part in the EMRTS Cymru programme because she sees it as a fantastic opportunity to contribute to healthcare provision in Wales.

Tracy said: “I am particularly looking forward to helping to ensure that most areas in Wales are able to access top quality care regardless of location. I grew up in a farming community near Aberaeron and it was fairly isolated in terms of emergency provision. I think it will be a great step forward for us in Wales to have this service.”

A s well as deploying doctors on the air ambulance’s fleet of helicopters, EMRTS Cymru has also introduced new technology and equipment pioneered by the armed forces and developments which are a first for helicopter emergency medical service operations in the UK.

EMRTS Cymru has been developed in partnership between the Welsh Government, the Wales Air Ambulance charity, NHS Wales, the Welsh Blood Service, and the Welsh Ambulance Service.

The Welsh Government is providing £2.868m from 2015-16 to support EMRTS Cymru’s critical care team. The Wales Air Ambulance continues to rely on charitable donations to raise the £6m required each year to keep the air ambulances flying.

The ‘flying doctors’, which have already completed more than 100 missions since starting operations at the end of April, were greeted by the First Minister Carwyn Jones AM at an official launch ceremony this week.

The First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones said: “The official launch of EMRTS Cymru today marks a major milestone for the NHS in Wales. The new doctor-led critical care teams will transform our ability to provide the very best care to the most critically-ill patients in Wales. They provide patients in remote and rural areas of Wales with rapid access to the skills of a consultant in emergency or intensive care medicine who are equipped to provide life-saving and specialist critical care.”

Angela Hughes, chief executive of Wales Air Ambulance, said: “Securing consultants on board our aircraft is another significant step towards our aim of providing the most advanced air ambulance service in the world. Providing a world-class emergency care service is of great importance to the people of Wales, particularly given the number of rural communities we have.”

These developments will save the lives of many people in urgent need of assistance.

“We have received incredible support from our fundraisers since first launching in 2001, and continue to rely entirely on charitable donations to raise more than £6m each year to keep Wales’ helicopters flying.”

Tracy will work shifts with the air ambulance alongside her normal working week with local health boards.

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Community

RNLI in Wales urges people to stay safe as Storm Brendan hits

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The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is urging people to stay safe near the Welsh coast as severe weather could make our seas and coastlines particularly dangerous.

Lifesaving charity, the RNLI, is encouraging people to exercise extreme caution if visiting the shoreline, especially along exposed cliffs, seafronts and piers.

The expected strong winds and severe gales pose a severe safety risk to those visiting the coast.

Named Storm Brendan by Met Eireann, it swept eastwards across Ireland before making its way through the rest of the UK this morning with yellow wind warning in place for most of the Welsh coast.

Chris Cousens, RNLI Regional Water Safety Lead for Wales said:

‘This rough weather could make visiting parts of the Welsh coastline treacherous and bring very dangerous sea conditions.

‘Sadly, around 150 people lose their lives on British and Irish coasts each year and over half of these people didn’t plan on ever entering the water. Slips, trips and falls can be a major factor in these kinds of incidents.’

If you see someone else in danger in the water, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard. If you have something that floats that they can hold on to, throw it to them. Don’t go in the water yourself – too many people drown trying to save others.

The charity, which provides a search and rescue service around the UK and Ireland, is facing its own Perfect Storm as demand for its services has increased but it is facing a shortfall in funds. This past year, the RNLI has been busier than ever, and stormy conditions can mean additional call outs for the already extremely busy volunteer crews. Whatever the weather, RNLI volunteers will still be on call to rescue those at difficulty at sea.

The RNLI’s major new fundraising appeal, The Perfect Storm, which aims to help the charity get back to living within its means, is running throughout November and December. To find out more or to donate visit RNLI.org/ThePerfect Storm.

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Community

Are you missing out on a Council Tax reduction?

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IF YOU’RE struggling to pay your Council Tax bill, then help could be available for you through the Welsh Government’s flagship Council Tax Reduction Scheme (CTRS).

The scheme, which will continue to support vulnerable households in 2020-21, currently benefits one in five of all households in Wales. In the last year almost 280,000 low-income households have received help from the scheme, with 220,000 paying no council tax at all. Many more receive other discounts or exemptions.

You may be entitled to pay less council tax if:

• you believe you live on a low income
• you live alone, or with people/children who do not pay council tax
• you are a student
• you are disabled
• you are severely mentally impaired

Understanding why there are still vulnerable households not benefitting from the help they are entitled to is a priority for the Welsh Government. Last year we commissioned research to understand the circumstances of households in Wales and the effects of the UK Government’s Universal Credit on the CTRS.

The interim report out today shows that for many households, the move to Universal Credit can have a significant impact on council tax reduction awards. Whilst many households currently receiving a 100% reduction will continue to do so, for others, the move to Universal Credit is shown to have an adverse impact, particularly for employed households, self-employed households, and working households in receipt of a Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment.

Full findings of the interim report are available on the Welsh Government website. These findings will now be considered in more detail to inform the next stages of the research and policy development in this area.

Encouraging people to make sure they are not missing out on help they could be entitled to, Finance Minister Rebecca Evans said:

“Ensuring every household in Wales receives the council tax support they are entitled to is an important part of our commitment to making council tax fairer.

“Our scheme is already helping hundreds of thousands of households across Wales, but we know that there are still many missing out on the discounts, reductions and exemptions they are entitled to. I encourage everyone to check the Welsh Government website to find out if they could be paying less.”

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Success for Dyfed-Powys Police in targeting drugs suppliers in Ceredigion

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A drugs supplier in the Ceredigion area has been sentenced to 2 years and 2 months in prison.

Kylie Mason, 34, from Aberaeron, was arrested on the 28th October 2019, and later charged with 2 offences of possession with intent to supply a controlled drug and two offences of supply a controlled drug of Class A. She pleaded guilty at court and received a total sentence of two years and two months in prison on the 8th January.

Detective Sergeant Steven Jones said: “This is an excellent result for the Aberaeron community, who had raised concerns about this individual supplying drugs in the area. I hope this will serve as a warning to others who wish to bring drugs into the Ceredigion area that it will not be tolerated. This result will go a long way towards keeping our communities safe. If anyone is worried about drugs in their community I would urge them to contact police as we will take the appropriate action.”

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